How much Force is in The Force Awakens? The latest Star Wars flick — a film cluttered with nostalgia and doused in childhood memories — is nothing if not scientifically flawed. BB-8, the droid featured and sub for the beloved R2D2, glides smoothly along sand dunes on remote planets. Meanwhile, TIE-fighters make suspiciously similar zapping sounds during intraplanetary combat as they do while in the remote vacuum of space. These are but a few scientific flaws, all of which were meticulously uncovered by science’s higher-authority Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Evidently, scientific accuracy may not have been the creators’ main focus when assembling the franchise’s latest episode; however, when categorizing the Star Wars films as either sci-fi or fantasy, one must account for the illusion of scientific truth that the film actually contains.
Star Wars can go either way; but the film falls somewhere on the fantasy side of the spectrum. It’s more preoccupied with the battle between good and evil — and whose son has joined the dark side this time — than it is with the expansion of our scientific frontier. The classic sci-fi films, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, or more recently The Martian, all hint at the potential that humankind has for furthering our exploration of space. The evolution of human technology is a cornerstone of the sci-fi genre, whereas fantasy disregards this concept entirely.
That said, certain aspects of Star Wars, although somewhat inadvertently, indicate a movie that is more of the sci-fi persuasion than one might expect. Ever since the franchise’s inception, Star Wars has contained various motifs that give the series its distinctive originality. These motifs come in the form of light-sabers, jedi mind control, and the use of the Force. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that none of these motifs exist in our everyday reality; light-saber crime is at a steady low across the globe, and as far as we can tell, you weren’t drawn to this article by a certain news publication’s jedi mind-tricks. But sci-fi movies are often catalysts to future technological advancements. In order for Star Wars to be a sci-fi movie, some of its themes would have to allude to humans’ progress in technological advancements. This makes Star Wars both fantasy and sci-fi. Currently, Star Wars is fantasy — a genre where the science is based upon nothing, and where the focus lies strictly on the narrative. Now, it’s up to our own technological advancements to discover — will Star Wars change from fantasy into sci-fi?